“Behind The Gems” is a long-running monthly series that takes you on an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of our signature collections.
In this special edition, we’re focusing on the art of stringing necklaces.
You may have heard of people having their “pearl necklaces restrung”. In this article, we will explain what this means and how often it needs to get done. And you'll see that it applies to more than just pearls. Plus, we won’t shy away from getting really technical, so you can fully understand the restringing process.
The first thing you need to know is that there are four main types of threads: natural silk, nylon/mixed threads, rubberised steel and fine chain. Each of these comes with their own particularities, advantages and disadvantages, all of which have been carefully considered by the jewellers who created your necklaces.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Type Of Stringing: Natural Silk Threads
This is the most traditional type of thread – it has been the preferred method for centuries.
Just think of your grandmother’s pearl necklaces.
Using natural silk requires making a tiny knot in between each and every pearl or bead. This is time consuming to do, but the results are beautiful.
Pros of Using Natural Silks:
- The finished necklace moves naturally – there’s no stiffness whatsoever.
- The natural silk colouring blends in well with natural white pearls (nylon or cotton mixes tend to stand out and look artificial).
- If it breaks, only one pearl or bead will fall off, thanks to the knots in between.
Cons of Using Natural Silks:
- Will need to be restrung more frequently than other types of threads.
- If there are any rough edges inside the beads, the thread can wear out faster.
One of our pieces with this type of stringing is the Baroque Pearl Chocker:
Type Of Stringing: Nylon or Mixed Threads
Necklaces with stones such as emeralds and aquamarines require slightly thicker threads made of nylon or a nylon/cotton mix. This is because the friction inside the holes of the stones creates an imperceivable, yet continuously repeated damage to the thread. So the stronger the thread, the longer the time between restringing, which leads to our ultimate end goal: happier clients.
The same method is employed as in the case of natural silk threads: little knots are hand tied between each bead or stone.
Pros of Using Nylon or Mixed Threads:
- The thread is stronger and more durable.
- It can hold more weight, which makes it ideal for heavier stones.
Cons of Using Nylon or Mixed Threads:
- Time consuming to string.
- Matching stone colour to thread can be challenging.
Type Of Stringing: Rubberised Steel
Rubberised steel is used in necklaces with considerably heavier stones or with noticeably rougher edges. The rubber makes the cable tougher and smoother to work with.
It is quicker to work with than silk or mixed material threads as there are no knots between the stones. Instead, the beads are strung in little groups with clamps (little squished metal pieces) every 3 or so beads.
Pros of Using Rubberised Steel:
- The rubberised steel is very durable.
- A great choice for raw stones or those with rough edges.
- It is relatively quick to string.
Cons of Using Rubberised Steel:
- The lack of knots between the stones means that if the necklace breaks, they will all spill and bounce… everywhere.
- It can be hard to hide the little clamps.
- Initially it will have a stiffer finished look – though that will soften with wear and will eventually lay correctly.
One of our pieces with this type of stringing is the Pink Peruvian Opal Necklace:
Type Of Stringing: Fine Chain
Fine chain is a fantastic choice for necklaces that need flexibility, but also require strength. For this reason, it is used on long necklaces with medium-to-heavy stones like malachite, large tiger eye or quartz.
Pros of Using Fine Chain:
- Great flexibility.
- Relatively quick to string.
- Lasts a long, long time.
Cons of Using Fine Chain:
- As with rubberised steel, if it breaks, the stones will spill all at once.
- Fine chain wears the beads on the inside, which can make translucent stones appear dull over time due to internal scratches. To prevent this, we prefer to make little links in the chain and space out the stones.
One of our pieces with this type of stringing method is the Spiced Coral Necklace:
How often do you have to restring a piece?
It depends on how frequently the necklace is worn. A good rule of thumb is that, if you start seeing irregular gaps in the necklace or if you notice that the stones or pearls begin to move too freely, it might be time to restring it.
Generally, it is better to restring before your necklace really needs it. Think of restringing like polishing shoes: it looks better when done regularly.
Why re-string a necklace?
A fresh thread will breathe new life into your necklace. Plus, it's an opportunity to get the stones or pearls professionally cleaned.
Get your necklace re-stringed today.
We offer the service for any type of necklace. Please contact us for details or if you have any questions.